NBC Universal recently held its Winter 2013 Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena for television critics from all over the country in an effort to promote and spotlight their new or returning programs and stars. The question and answer sessions gave NBC executives an opportunity to discuss the successes and missteps by the network as well as what advances or changes viewers can expect. But most importantly, critics got a chance to meet the new faces of NBC comedies and dramas.

Beyond a doubt, actress Meagan Good is ushering in a new era for NBC. She is the first African American female to lead an ensemble cast of characters for NBC in her role in the very ‘juicy’ drama “Deception,” airing Monday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC.

Good stars as Joanna Locasto, a San Francisco narcotics detective who is asked to go undercover to investigate the mysterious death of her childhood friend who was a member of a very wealthy, scandalous and dangerous family.

Her role and that of other ethnic stars reflects the policy of NBCUniversal to recognize America’s diversity. Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, says, “We talk to the creators of all the shows, and even people who just pitch us ideas, about, you know, anything: How can we make these shows more diverse?”

Good is the poster girl, I would say, for NBC Universal’s commitment to diversity in front of and hopefully one day behind the camera.

One television critic asked, “Is there an untapped market that you think is really going to appreciate seeing an African American woman in the lead of a major drama?”
Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment responded, “I absolutely think so.”
Salke went on to say, “We insisted that there be a diverse woman in that role. And to the producer’s credit, they, I mean, looked into every list they could possibly go through, trying to find the right person that in their mind, would be a star. And they found Meagan, I think, a week before we started production.”

Laz Alonso also came to the table late. He stars as Good’s ex-lover Will Moreno, an F.B.I. Agent who talks her into going undercover which he will ultimately regret. (I told you it is juicy).
Andre Holland stars in “1600 Penn,” a very different and funny look at the goings on in the White House. With Bill Pullman as Dale Gilchrist, president of the United States, and a family that’s anything but normal, Holland’s character, Marshall Malloy, the savvy and loyal White House press secretary fits right in.

As a matter of fact he just might be the most grounded of them all, except for one thing.
Much acclaimed actress Phylicia Rashad stars as Dr. Vanessa Young, the head of the neurosurgery department in “Do No Harm.” In a brilliant retelling of the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” classic, “Do No Harm” tells the story of Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale), a highly respected neurosurgeon by day, and then at 8:25 p.m. something unthinkable happens–he becomes the notoriously dangerous Ian Price. And it’s up to Dr. Young, who is a strong and determined woman, to keep him in check.

Returning stars include; Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Tom Neville in “Revolution,” Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Strickland in “Smash,” and Russell Hornsby as Lt. Hank Griffin in “Grimm.”

It remains to be seen what programming will make it or not. But judging from where I sit, I think they all have a chance of becoming hits. Don’t forget, I was right about “Grimm,” “Revolution,” and “Smash.”

Footnote: Kerry Washington is the first Black woman in decades to be cast in the lead of a network drama, ABC’s “Scandalous.” But in 1974 to 1975, Teresa Graves starred in 22 one-hour episodes of ABC’s “Get Christie Love” as an undercover cop. Her catch phrase was, “You’re under arrest sugah.” Executive producers were Glen A. Larson and David L. Wolper.
Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com.